by George Gifford.
Richard Field and Felix Kinston, 1599.
Set forth by George Giffard, Preacher of the Word at Mauldin in Essex.
[Spelling has been modified]
1 And I saw an Angel come down from heaven, which had the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he took the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and sealed over him, that he should not seduce the nations any more until the thousand years were expired: for afterward he must be loosed for a little time.
4 And I saw seats, and there were that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them. And the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 The rest of the dead lived not, until the thousand years were finished, this is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, for on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
The fall of great Babel, and her final destruction, is set forth
before in the 18 chapter. The great Babel is the city of Antichrist,
described in the 17 chapter under the figure of a woman drunken with
the blood of the Saints. Where it is manifest by the words of the
Angel, that Rome is that woman, which hath drunk so much blood. Then
further we have had in the 19 chapter the utter overthrow and
condemnation of the beast, and of the false prophet, and of all that
take their part, for the Lord Jesus cometh forth unto battle against
them. The beast is set forth chapter 13 with seven heads, which are
seven hills, upon which Rome was built, and seven kings, that is, seven
kinds of kingly power by which that city hath been supported. The
dominion of Popes is the seventh head of that beast, and the Angel
calleth it also the eighth, because it challenged a double power. And
for that cause that monarchy of the Popes is set forth not only as one
head of the beast, but also as a several beast by itself, which is
called the false prophet. Then we see, that the Empire goeth down, the
papacy goeth down, the whole kingdom of Antichrist goeth down with
their whole religion and worship, yea with all that take their part,
when Christ cometh forth unto battle against them. And now after we
have been told how these shall be destroyed, he cometh to set forth the
condemnation of the greatest and chiefest of them all, even of their
grand captain which set them all on work, and that is the dragon, which
is described before chap. 12. He is the beginner, he is the raiser up
of the rest, he is the great worker of all mischief, and now cometh his
judgment and condemnation.
It may be demanded, shall not Satan be overthrown, and damned
together with his instruments? Yes no doubt. Why then is he not
overcome in that battle with the beast and the false prophet? I answer,
that he is overthrown and taken in that battle, but not there set
forth, but in a vision by itself. His armies are brought in with him,
with whom he is overthrown, but under other titles. Now ye may note
that there is an evident cause, why the history of his condemnation is
brought in by itself after all the other, and that is, that his
mischief hath extended itself further than by the Roman power, and he
hath other armies besides the beast and the false prophet, which all in
general are here brought in with him. To come then nearer to the
history, ye have in all the destructions of Christ's enemies, the
causes repeated for which they be destroyed, to the end that it may
well appear, that they have but their desert. So shall ye find it here,
that is, before Satan's condemnation is described, here is set forth
how well he hath deserved such torments. His mischiefs that he hath
wrought are briefly rehersed. But now I will come to the words of the
Saint John saith, And I saw an Angel descending from heaven, having the key of the botomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. This doth not set forth Satan's final destruction, but an ancient matter, that is, how he was bound and chained up in old time. And therefore there is in this vision preparation shewed for that matter, for here cometh an Angel from heaven with the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain. Here is the key of the prison into which he must be locked up, and the chain with which he must there lie bound. Then who is this Angel, and when came he down thus for to bind him, and to lock him up in the bottomless pit? This Angel is our Lord Jesus, the great chain wherewith he doth bind him, is the holy and pure doctrine of the Gospel, the time when he was thus taken and bound with it, was when first Christ preached it, and then his Apostles unto all nations. And now mark how he is bound. This dragon, as we see is set forth chap. 12, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads seven crowns. He had with his might and with his subtilties seduced and overcome the nations of the earth, and reigned as Lord and king, yea they worshipped him as God. For all the worship of the heathen nations was the worship of devils, as Saint Paul teacheth, 1 Cor. 10. He did not only bear sway in all the great and large kingdoms of the world which were heathen, but also whereas the Lord had separated one little corner, even one nation of the Jews, and had given them his holy ordinances and laws, whereby they might have light and not be seduced, even among them also, he had set in his foot, and seduced even the most of them. He brought in sundrie sects among them which corrupted and depraved the doctrine of Moses and the Prophets. What a prince was Satan now? how did he range over the world? But now cometh a chain for him. Christ doth preach, & sendeth forth his disciples with power, & faith, I saw Satan fall down from heaven like lightning, Luke 10:18. He now beginneth to fall down from his dignity and great magnificence. Afterward when the Lord ascended, and had sent down the holy Ghost upon his Apostles, and they preached not only in Judea, but also among the heathen nations, & great multitudes had their ears opened & turned from idolatry to worship the true and living God, then was there a great chain put upon him, and he was bound. For that is the binding of Satan, when he is so restrained by the light of the Gospel, that he cannot seduce men unto false worship. And mark, that although he be the great mighty dragon, even that old fiery serpent, yet he cannot wind out neither by might, nor yet by any sleight, but that this angel doth catch him and chain him up. And besides all this, he must be shut up in prison, which is in the bottomless pit, and the door locked and sealed up, even to shew that he must be strongly restrained or else he will abroad, he is set upon all mischief. Also the sealing doth teach, that God hath decreed with an unchangeable purpose, that he shall not be let loose until the time be expired. And the time is set that he should be chained for a thousand years. It is not certain from what year these thousand are to be begun, whether from the time that Christ began to preach, and began to bind Satan, or from the time that the Apostles had spread the holy doctrine among the nations, neither is it greatly material. For this is the purpose of the holy Ghost to set down this long time of a thousand years, in which Satan should lie bound, not to tie us precisely to that number of a just thousand, as to say, neither one year or two more or less but though it were some few more, yet the full number is set down only. Satan should for a long time be tied up. Now if we count the years, this is most certain, that somewhat more than a thousand years after our Lord's passion, there were most horrible wicked Popes, and especially Hildebrand, called Gregory the seventh, who was a conjurer and dealt by the devil. Their own histories do plainly shew, that about that time diverse popes came in by the devil, and Satan was then said to reign in the popedom. He had before this obtained that the Bishop of Rome should be esteemed as head of all Bishops, and now look what he would utter to the world, he uttereth it under his name, even as under the name of Christ's vicar, and as one that sitteth in Peter's chair. The world, as we shall see when we come to the loosing of Satan, was now again seduced. But now ariseth a question, was Satan shut up in hell for a space of a thousand years? was he not in the world? who then seduced the reprobate in all that time? for howsoever great multitudes embraced the truth, yet far greater did impugne and blaspheme it. And who stirred up those cruel persecutions, as he said before in his book unto one of the Churches, behold Satan shall cast some of you into prison? Or who sent those horrible routs of heretics of whom we read, which immediately after the Apostles' times entered? I answer, that we must not take it that Satan is shut up in hell for this time in such sort as that he should do nothing in the world: but he is said to be chained up in the bottomless pit, to signify that he could not now generally seduce as he had done. He wrought now in the wicked mightily, and with so great rage and wrath, that it is said chap. 12. Woe be to the inhabitants of the earth, and of the sea: for behold, the devil is come down unto you, full of wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. Then make this account that Satan, in these thousand years, was bound one way, but another way he was loose. He was bound for seducing (as S. John expresseth it) but he was not bound from other mischiefs which he wrought in great plenty. After the thousand years expired, Saint John saith, he must be let loose again, for a little season. This little time, in which the devil was let loose, is the time in which the great Antichrist did bare sway, for the coming of Antichrist (as S. Paul teacheth) should be, with all efficacie of Satan. There be fifteen hundred years past since the Apostles were taken out of this world, and for these threescore years & more, the Gospel hath been preached, so that the very fulness, and the strength of the popery lasted but four or five hundred years. In that time, Satan deluded the world, and led them into all abominable superstition, idolatry, and wicked errors, and with such strong delusion, to believe lies, as it is wonderful to think upon.
In the next words the state of the Church is set forth, for that thousand years in which the devil is chained up. Saint John saith, he saw seats, and there were that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, &c. The Church of God is but one, but yet we say, the Church militant, and the Church triumphant: for one part is warring upon the earth and that is militant, the other part hath gotten the victory over the devil and sin, and their souls triumph in heaven, and therefore called the Church triumphant. Now the question is here, whether S. John do here set forth the flourishing state of the Church triumphant only when he saith, I saw seats, and there were that sat on them, and judgment was given unto them, &c. Or whether he be to be understood of both, that is the militant, and triumphant: because that after he hath said, I saw seats, and there were that sat on them, he addeth that he saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus. It is usually taken of interpreters only for the church triumphant. That is to say, that S. John's vision saw the souls of the martyrs sitting upon seats, & exercising judgment, not as having the office of Christ derived unto them, who is properly the only judge of both the quick and the dead, but as the members joined unto their head: for they are said to live and reign with Christ. This doctrine is according to the words of Christ to his Apostles, Ye shall sit upon twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And to that which Saint Paul saith, Know ye not that we shall judge the Angels? 1 Cor. 6:3. So that it may very well be said here, that the souls of the martyrs do sit upon seats, and judge, and reign with Christ. But I take it, that Saint John doth not here alone set forth the state of the Church triumphant, for that time in which Satan was bound, but also sheweth how in those days the Church militant upon earth, did flourish and exercise her power: for it seemeth very requisite, that somewhat should be said of the state of the Church in the world, while Satan did lie in his chain. And the words themselves which Saint John hath set down, do divide the matter into two parts. I saw (saith he) seats, and there were that sat upon them, & judgment was given unto them: And the souls, that is, and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, &c. I take the seats then, & them that sit upon them, to be upon the earth in the Church militant: and that to describe, and set forth how the Church exercised her power in the world that thousand years that Satan was bound. The Scribes and Pharisees were said to sit in Moses' chair, as we read how Christ our Lord speaketh, Mat. 23. Even so all the Apostles, and their succesors have chairs, or seats in the which they exercise judgment, whilst they do deliver forth the pure doctrine, that ruleth and judgeth among the nations, as it is written Isa. 2. These seats were set in many lands, where there were great Churches, which had very famous teachers, that did instruct and guide the flocks, according to the rules of the holy word. Now was judgment given them, now was the power of our Lord Jesus exercised whilst Satan lay bound with his chain. In this thousand years those Churches did live and reign with Christ. For that latter clause, which is, they did live and reign, may very well be referred to the former part of the sentence: and not only to the souls of the martyrs which live with Christ for evermore. He speaketh then, as I suppose, how the church here upon earth should live and reign those thousand years, in which the dragon was tied up from seducing: for all the faithful do after a sort live and reign with Christ while they are here upon the earth: seeing that through faith, they overcome the world, as it is written: 1 John 5. They subdue Satan, and sin. This is to be observed against the error of the Chiliasts, or Millenaries. They be both one, for Chilias in the Greek tongue is a thousand, and Mille is so many in the Latin. So that Chiliasts, or Millenary, are they which from this scripture did gather, that after the overthrow of the Antichrist, the Lord Jesus would come, and with the faithful reign here a thousand years upon the earth. And that in this time, that Christ should so reign as a great and glorious king upon the earth, his subjects should enjoy all manner of earthly pleasures and delights. This fond error is confuted by the words that follow in the text, as we shall see afterward.
But here there may arise some doubt, upon this that Saint John saith, he saw the souls of them, which refused to worship the beast, and the image of the beast, and that received not his mark, in their forehead, nor in their hands. The doubt is this, how he may be said, to see the souls of those, that would not worship the image of the beast, in those thousand years that Satan was bound: seeing the image of the beast was not set up until Satan was loosed. We know this that in, and from the time of the Apostles, the sixth head of the Roman tyranny was up, that is the Empire, and that under the heathen Emperors many thousands were put to death, for refusing to worship that beast. They would not obey the Roman laws, which commanded to worship idols: and so they were put to death. These were indeed in those thousand years. But now the seventh head of that beast, which is the second beast, the beast with two horns like a lamb, which without controversy is granted on all parts to be the great Antichrist, he setteth up the image of the beast, and causeth the inhabitants of the earth to worship it. He causeth them to receive the mark, of which he here speaketh. This beast, that setteth up the image to be worshipped, reigneth not in those thousand years in which Satan is bound, but is he by whom Satan when he is loosed, doth seduce the nations. How then saith Saint John, that those which were slain, because they would not worship the image of the beast, nor receive his mark, did live and reign with Christ that thousand years? They are slain for not worshipping the image of the beast, after those thousand years are expired, even in the days that Satan again being let loose, seduceth the nations. It may be answered, that the second beast, the tyranny of the popes, which is called the false prophet, rose not up of a sudden, or at once, but by degrees, and was grown to a great height before that full loosing of Satan. We read how Saint Paul speaketh of it, 2 Thes. 2. How the mystery of iniquity did work even in his time. If Satan in those days of the Apostle when the greatest power was for to bind him, did secretly lay the foundations of that wicked apostasy, we may well think that the work was grown to some perfection, before the thousand years were expired: although not to such as at the full loosing and after the loosing of Satan. So then there might be, and was, great tyranny used against the servants of God before Satan's loosing, by the second beast. It may be some will say, that although those holy servants of God which were put to death, because they would not worship the image of the beast, were after the thousand years, yet Saint John seeth them altogether in vision, with those which were slain by the heathen Emperors in the former part of those thousand years. If we take it so, how could he say, that they did live and reign with Christ, that thousand years? I take it therefore, that the words are thus to be joined, that John saw seats, and there were that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, taking it of the Church in earth: and not to join it to the souls which he saw, as to say, that they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. For that thousand years then, in which Satan was bound from seducing the nations so generally as he had done, the Gospel prevailed and converted very many unto God, ruling and judging, though not in so full measure as in the former times. For in the time of the Apostles, the light of the Gospel was spread far and near in the heathen kingdoms, and that with all pure sincerity. After their days, abuses and corruptions crept in, and superstitions increased and that more and more, but yet so that even to the full thousand years, the principles and grounds of the holy faith were held in great Churches. So although after six hundred years the clear sincerity of the truth was much dimmed, yet there was a general power still, and they lived and reigned with Christ which were quicked by the Gospel in all lands. The words which do follow do more clearly carry the sense this way. For first he expoundeth the matter by the contrary, when he saith, the rest of the dead lived not, until the thousand years were finished. Mark well this saying: for it openeth much, together with that exposition which followeth of it. For indeed the words that follow do declare in express and plain manner, what life, and what rising from the dead this is to be understood of, which the rest of the dead do not attain unto.
Touching the former, wherein, as I said, he openeth the matter by the contrary: it is in these words, the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished: here is first evidently shewed that all were dead, and that one part are raised from death in these thousand years, and another part is not raised, who he called the rest of the dead. For unless some were raised from death to life, in those thousand years, and others were not raised, how could it be said, the rest of the dead lived not, &c? or how could he speak of a resurrection? To make this more evident, we must first note the general estate that all be in by nature, both the elect and the reprobate, and that is, all be dead, for in regard to the elect which are raised up out of that general estate, the reprobabte are called the rest of the dead. What manner of death this is, the holy Scriptures do evidently set forth. Being all corrupted in Adam, we all die in him as the Apostle teacheth, 1 Cor. 15. And that is to be understood, not only of this separation of the soul and body, but also of a spiritual death in the soul, even while we live here. For whosoever are separated from God, there is no true life in them. But look how the devils may after a sort be said to live, and yet it is no life indeed, but an everlasting death: for the souls of men although they have natural powers and faculties in them by which they give life to the bodies, and in that respect are immortal, because those faculties never die, yet so long as they be under the dominion of sin, they be dead touching the spiritual life. And in this state are all, both the elect and the reprobate, the elect herein only differing, that they be raised up to life in Christ. And you (saith S. Paul) hath he quickened, that were dead in trespasses and sins, Ephes. 2:1. Also in the same chapter he saith, he made us alive together with Christ, when we were dead through trespasses. And in the 4th chapter of the same epistle, he saith, they were strangers from the life of God, verse 18. All then being by nature (as the same Apostle saith) the children of wrath, now let us see how the difference of the elect is made from those whom he calleth here the rest of the dead. It is made by Christ, they are raised up to a spiritual life by him, even while they live here. And our Lord Jesus himself setteth forth this thing very plainly, John 5:25 saying, The time shall come, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God, and they that hear is shall live. Then Christ by his voice raiseth the soul to life, they that are chosen, hear the Gospel and live by it. But all are not raised, for he saith the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished. What is that? This it is, in those thousand years, in which the Gospel is preached, and the voice of Christ which raiseth the dead, is sounded forth with great power, there be many which are not raised up unto life by it, but do continue still in their former estate, under the power of sin even strangers from the life of God. All are not raised from the death of sin, unto the life of righteousness, at the sound of the Gospel. There were many that heard Christ himself preach, many that heard the Apostles, which were not raised to life, but remained still under the power of Satan, and were dead in sin. Many in those thousand years in which the Gospel flourished, and Satan lay bound, were raised from death, and did live and reign with Christ, but many more, whom he calleth the rest of the dead, despised the Gospel, and so were not raised to life by it, whom he calleth the rest of the dead. This thing is fulfilled in all times, and in all places where the Gospel is preached: for some do embrace it, and by it have Christ living in them: others are never the better for it: but the devil and sin have even as great power over them, as before. But here the Chiliasts, of whom I told you before, do ground their error, because he saith, until the thousand years were finished. For this speech seemeth to import that after the thousand years finished, they shall rise also whom he calleth the rest of the dead. For to say they shall not live until the thousand years be finished, what is that but to say that they shall then live? This then they take thus. That the devil shall be bound a thousand years, and then shall all the faithful be raised up in body, and reign all that thousand years upon the earth with Christ. And this (say they) is the first resurrection.
Then when the thousand years are finished, they take it that all the dead shall live, and that they call the second resurrection. So they held that there should be two resurrections of the body, the first of the faithful, and the second of all the dead. We do believe, for the holy Scripture doth so teach, that all the dead both good and bad shall rise with their bodies: but we are also taught by the word of God, that all shall rise at once, there shall be but one resurrection of the body. The first resurrection therefore (as it is here called) is in the soul, when it is raised from the death of sin. Of which Saint Paul speaketh, saying, if ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, Col. 3:1. Then to maintain their opinion, they must shew that there be three resurrections. For if there be two of the bodies, then this which Saint Paul doth speak of, maketh the third. Again, they must prove, which they can never, that the resurrection of the bodies of the faithful, goeth before the resurrection which S. Paul speaketh of to the Colossians, If ye be risen with Christ: for the resurrection which John here speaketh of is the first: which is most absurd. Whereupon it must needs follow, that the first resurrection which Saint John here speaketh of, is not of the body, but when the soul receiveth the life of Christ. This is the first resurrection, and it is peculiar to the faithful, the rest of the dead do not rise at all in this resurrection. But yet the matter is not answered: for that word until. For if it be so, that the rest of the dead never rise in this kind of resurrection, how should it be said, they live not until the thousand years be finished? I answer, that for this word until, it is both in common speech and in the usual phrase of the Scripture, to say such a thing was not until such a time, which indeed when that time is come, is not neither. As Joseph took Mary, and knew her not until she had brought forth her first born son, Mat. 1. Where we are not to take it, that he knew her after she had brought forth her first born. Also where David danced before the Ark, and Michal despised him for it in her heart, therefore sayeth the holy Ghost, Michal the daughter of Saul, had no child until the day of her death, 2 Sam. 6. Shall we gather upon this, that she had a child at the day of her death? We say usually, such a man was never married until his death. No man taketh it thereupon, that after his death he was married. So when it is said, that the rest of the dead lived not, until the thousand years were finished, it is as much as to say they were never raised to that spiritual life. That thousand years was a time in which many were raised to life at the sound of the Gospel: but there were many then not raised. For although Satan were bound to that he could not so seduce the nations as he had done, yet he did harden their hearts, and blind the eyes of the reprobate, so that they embraced not the life he offered. Then we see what this first resurrection is. And now that we may be moved with the desire of it, even to labour to have our part therein, here is the commendation thereof set forth. Blessed and holy (saith Saint John) is he that hath his part in this first resurrection, for on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be the priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years, This is a singular commendation of the first resurrection, that every one is blessed and holy that has his part in it. What is greater than true blessedness? And every one that is raised to life in this first resurrection, is pronounced to be blessed. Then this is a resurrection of none but the blessed ones. And it is to be marked how he joins these two together, blessed and holy. For there is none raised to life in Christ, but by his spirit. Christ dwelleth in them, and they in him. They walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit, Rom. 8. They be new creatures which are in Christ, as the holy Apostle plentifully teacheth. If therefore ye do make account of blessedness, if ye do make account to have your part in the first resurrection, labour to be holy. Seek to be found in Christ, that ye may die unto sin, your old man being crucified, and that ye may be raised up unto newness of life, even unto true holiness. For many may imagine that they have their part in this first resurrection, because they profess the Gospel, and be deceived, for except they be raised up from under the dominion of sin, they be not holy, they be still dead. Then there is a reason rendered why they are blessed, which is in these words, for on such the second death has no power. It is as much as to say, they be blessed, for they be delivered from the damnation of hell. For there is the second death, in which the devils and the reprobate do die eternally. So you see then, that as there is the first and the second resurrection, so there is the first and the second death. The first death is the separation of the soul and body, which the elect do pass through: the second death is the torments of hell, into which all those enter that do die in their sins. And are not they right happy which do escape from hell, over whom death hath no power? And he teacheth that all that have their part in the first resurrection, that second death shall have no power over them. Here is yet a further reason of this also rendered. For such as be consecrated to God and to his Christ, and that get the victory as Kings to reign with him, how shall the second death have any power over them? But Saint John sheweth how these shall reign with him. And what is that but to be conquerers and Kings? These overcome, these be in the presence of God, who shall reign with him a thousand years. For shall they reign but a thousand years? Shall not the Saints reign world without end? Ye must note that he speaketh here of the reign of the faithful even upon earth, for the space of that thousand years, in which Satan is bound: which excludeth not their eternal glory in the heavens. O beloved, give your souls to God, seek this first resurrection, that ye may be blessd for evermore in the heavens.